Exterior Staining with Sansin SDF Enviro Stain - A Review.

This is not an extensive review of Sansin Stain as much as it is the sharing of our experience with the Sansin SDF product. We used Sansin Stain before but never as much as we did last year.
Exterior staining in cold climates is challenging and most exterior painters in Toronto avoid taking the risk. The winters are long and cold and the summers short and humid. Staining decks and wood structures under these conditions is not ideal. Manufacturers don’t want you staining in the sun or during humid conditions. They also caution about rain 48 hours before and 24 hours after staining. To make it even worse, a busy contractor must incorporate these ideal conditions into a packed summer schedule.

Staining Project – Board & batten house in Stoufville

Last September (2018) we had an opportunity to stain the exterior of a beautiful home just north of Musselman’s Lake. Musselman’s Lake is located 6 km north of the town of Stouffville, and is part of the Greater Toronto Area. We do offer residential painting services to the Stouffville demographic and occasionally market to the area. The customer found us and contacted us through Facebook:

Customer: What services do you offer? Do you paint wood? It’s board & batten
Ecopainting: Yes we do. Where are you located?
Customer: We are in Stouffville. I am talking about the exterior of the house, its wood.
Ecopainting: Yes, we do that. It can be stained with translucent or solid stain or it can be painted. If painted, it requires a lot of stain primer to stop the wood tanning and knots of the wood from bleeding through. It also depends on it’s condition and the look that you like to achieve. Would you like us to see it and provide you an estimate?

Home before Sansin

The customer finally hired Ecopainting for the project and after a long discussion about product and availability we decided to use Sansin SDF Enviro Stain. The colours were Monterrey red 14 for the walkway bridge and balcony and Chesapeake 67 for the main body of the house.

What Makes Sansin SDF Enviro Stain Different?

Sansin SDF is a product for log homes, fences, siding and decks. It’s a one coat formula that repels water, while allowing water vapor to escape. It’s a very thin waterbourne alkyd that penetrates wood better than acrylic and almost as well as oil. Because acrylic stains rely on their adhesion properties, they form a film that eventually peels off. The molecular size of the Sansin resins and oils is very small and deeply penetrate the wood. Being similar to the old oil stains, the stain does not form a film and as a result fades without peeling.

What makes the Sansin formula better than the old alkyds?

  • Being waterbourne, it is much easier to use and wash from the painter’s hands and tools.
  • It creates fewer environmental toxins like VOCs (volatile organic compounds). VOCs contribute to smog and hurt the ozone layer.
  • Sansin does not use universal colourants. Their proprietary colourants are created by using finely ground pigments that penetrate into the wood.

Can it be applied to wood with high moisture content?

According to the manufacturer, yes!
Thanks to SDF’s unique water-borne technology, it can be applied to wood even with high moisture content – SDF lets wood “breathe”, preventing moisture from getting trapped inside the logs and causing decay. Sansin SDF will not crack, peel, or blister”
The hydrophilic qualities of this product can be a game changer for contractors dealing with short and humid summers.

Was Sansin Stain Easy to Find and Apply?

Painters applying Sansin SDF Stain

After going back and forth between Benjamin Moore’s Arborcoat and Sikkens products, we recommended Sansin Stain. We thought it was a good idea for two reasons. First, it was late in the summer and humidity was a factor, especially in the morning. The other reason was mostly environmental. The home was right in the woods and the thought of using flammable, solvent based coatings did not seem right.

Choosing Stain Colours

Since there were no Sansin dealers in the north east of the GTA, finding and choosing colours proved to be a challenge. There were samples in their website and brochures but nothing beats the accuracy of seeing painted sample. Primetime paints in Toronto is one of the dealers and was very helpful with the entire process. After the customer narrowed their choice to a handful of colours, Primetime ordered sample pots from the manufacturer. To our surprise, the sample pots were delivered straight to the customer’s home and within a few days we had the colour choices. We ordered all the stain from Primetime Paints and they were reliable as always.  

The Prep and the Staining

The customer did some power washing previously, so we only had to wash part of the home, the bridge and the balcony. Since the colour for the balcony, columns and walkway was fairly transparent, we used a brightening liquid. Brighteners are specialty wood cleaners that remove the graying fibers and literally “brighten” the wood before staining. We sanded the surfaces with orbital sanders using 60-80 grit sandpaper and after some dusting we were all set to go!

One coat application of stain on the bridgeThe first thing you notice when you open the can is that it looks very runny and watery (even for a stain). It’s a good idea to stir it very well before and often during the application. Despite the thin consistency, the product feels very rich and oily on the surface. Chesapeake 67 is a dark colour and very rich in pigment. Like traditional oil based stains, it is recommended that you saturate the surfaces with the product to help with the penetration. This eliminates “lap marks” because all surfaces have the same absorption. In horizontal surfaces it’s a good idea to wipe any excess stain.
The manufacturer has some helpful videos and resources on how to use their products.

Sansin SDF is a one coat application but you can apply a “wet” second coat if you need it. Wet coat means applying another coat before the first coat dries. We did use a second coat on some of the panels, to help with hiding, since the colour is very saturated with pigment.

Would We Use Sansin SDF Again? Our Conclusion.

  • The product was easy to apply by brush and easy to wash from our tools and brushes.
  • It penetrated the surfaces well and that bodes well for durability.
  • It stayed wet longer than acrylic stains but resisted the rain the next day.
  • It was pleasant to work with and the smell did not give us headaches.
  • The customer loved the colours and the home delivery of the sample pots.
  • It can be applied even if the wood has some internal humidity.

This home looks amazing with Sansin SDF Envirostain

To a painting contractor in the Greater Toronto Area, Sansin SDF makes a lot of sense. Even though expensive (CAD $82.26 /1 GALLON), this stain allows you to take on more projects. To Ecopainting, Sansin wood coatings are environmentally responsible alternatives to solvent based products.
We are looking forward to specifying and using them for our deck staining projects this summer.

4 thoughts on “Exterior Staining with Sansin Stain”

  1. Sansin is a really great stain. Amazing actually. One tip. I used granular oxalyic acid in a water solution to brighten the cedar deck boards after sanding the garbage solid stain that lasted 18 months. The oxalyic acid did a fantastic brightening job and the stain went on like silk. A year in after a hard winter and the deck looks like I stained it yesterday. Not one flake and it is gorgeous. You have to get the cedar sanded thoroughly so as with all painting preparation is the back breaking part.

    • Thank you for your prep suggestion and sharing your experience John. It’s good to know that it looked almost new after a hard winter. We are happy to spec this stain again and use it when the next opportunity comes up.

  2. I used their DEC formula for my PT deck in July of 2015. The deck faces SouthWest and gets a ton of exposure to all of the elements. This summer it will need a re-coat. Incredible. I have had various contractors come through on various projects and ask about what is on the deck. The key is definitely the prep. It took my a long time to carefully sand and wash the deck properly before application. The nice thing, is now I just need to do a light wash and do one-coat.

Leave a Comment